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NMR structure and function of Helicoverpa armigera sterol carrier protein-2, an important insecticidal target from the cotton bollworm.

Scientific reports (2015-12-15)
Haihao Ma, Yuemin Ma, Xuehui Liu, David H Dyer, Pingyong Xu, Kaiyu Liu, Que Lan, Huazhu Hong, Jianxin Peng, Rong Peng
ABSTRACT

The cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, has developed strong resistance to many insecticides. Sterol Carrier Protein-2 (SCP-2) is an important non-specific lipid transfer protein in insects and appears to be a potential new target. In order to elucidate the structure and function of Helicoverpa armigera SCP-2 (HaSCP-2), NMR spectroscopy, docking simulations, mutagenesis and bioassays were performed. HaSCP-2 composed of five α-helices and four stranded β-sheets. The folds of α-helices and β-sheets interacted together to form a hydrophobic cavity with putative entrance and exit openings, which served as a tunnel for accommodating and transporting of lipids. Several sterols and fatty acids could interact with HaSCP-2 via important hydrophobic sites, which could be potential targets for insecticides. Mutagenesis experiments indicated Y51, F53, F89, F110, I117 and Q131 may be the key functional sites. HaSCP-2 showed high cholesterol binding activity and SCP-2 inhibitors (SCPIs) could inhibit the biological activity of HaSCP-2. SCPI-treated larvae at young stage showed a significant decrease of cholesterol uptake in vivo. Our study describes for the first time a NMR structure of SCP-2 in lepidopteran H. armigera and reveals its important function in cholesterol uptake, which facilitates the screening of effective insecticides targeting the insect cholesterol metabolism.

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